NIGER – NIGER – NIJAR

Celo selo na okupu-The whole village together

Celo selo na okupu-The whole village together

Cuvari stada-Herdmen

Cuvari stada-Herdmen

Dzamija u mestu Ajoru-A mosque in Ayoru

Dzamija u mestu Ajoru-A mosque in Ayoru

Lokalna zabava-Local entertainment

Lokalna zabava-Local entertainment

Lokalni Dom zdravlja-Local health centre

Lokalni Dom zdravlja-Local health centre

Majka i dete-A mother and a child

Majka i dete-A mother and a child

Moj zastitnik-My guardian soldier

Moj zastitnik-My guardian soldier

Na putu-On the road

Na putu-On the road

Negde na putu-Somewhere on the way

Negde na putu-Somewhere on the way

Problemi-Problems

Problemi-Problems

Pustinjski treking-Desert trek

Pustinjski treking-Desert trek

Vlasnica lokala-Restaurant owner

Vlasnica lokala-Restaurant owner

Zagado, Niger

Zagado, Niger

Zalazak sunca na reci Niger-The sunset on the Niger River

Zalazak sunca na reci Niger-The sunset on the Niger River

“Le Ténéré est la plus belle solitude du monde”. Tenere je najlepša samoća
na svetu. I zaista je osećanje saharske usamljenosti, kao u tom regionu
centralnog Nigera, nešto kao orkestracija zvezdanog neba, kao pokušaj
uređivanja pustinjskog peska, određivanja pravca koji ne postoji.
Jednostavno, u Sahari ste izgubljeni u svim dimenzijama i to onda prihvatate
kao lepotu koja se ne može izmeriti ili iskazati ni rečima ni pogledom.
Potrebno je samo joj se prepustiti i uživati u njoj. Tako, prepušteni toj
lepoti, lutali smo džipovima između peščanih dina, retkog bodljikavog
rastinja, pustinjskih koza koje dremljivi pastiri samo okrznu delićem
pogleda usmerenog ka našim vozilima koja su, izgleda, zalutala kao i mnoga
druga, na ovom putu kroz Niger za Mali. Nekada je tu raslo jedino drvo na
prostranstvu od četiri stotine kilometara, akacija koja je služila kao
orijentir pustinjskim karavanima i zvala se Arbre du Ténéré. Nikome nije
bilo jasno kako je uspevala da tu opstane, pored Azalai karavana, koji su
nosili table soli na kamilama kojima je drvo sigurno bilo izazov, kao i
Tuarezima koji su možda mogli da koriste njegove grančice da bi kuvali čaj.
Nepisani plemenski zakon dugo je čuvao ovaj živi pustinjski svetionik, dok
ga neki pijani vozač, ipak, nije jednog dana oborio. Drvo je, potom, preneto
u muzej u glavnom gradu i zamenjeno metalnom skulpturom.
Niger je ogromna zemlja, koja potpuno pripada pustinji. Još je Leon
Afrikanac 1550. godine rekao da je Afrika podeljena na četiri dela. Treći
deo nema drugo ime do na arapskom Sahara, što znači pustinja. Sigurno je
procenio da ta pustinja čini četvrtinu celog kontinenta, po kome je još tada
jezdio i donosio Evropljanima prva saznanja o Africi.
Mestimično se iz pustinjskog peska promalja po neko usnulo mestašce, sa
čudnim pravougaonim građevinama od blata, čije su mračne prostorije siguran
zaklon od sunca, koje ubija sve što mu se nepotrebno dugo izloži. Tuarezi, u
svojim odorama indigo boje, remete jednoličnost pustinjskog kolorita i na
svojim ponosnim kamilama savladavaju saharska prostranstva. Jedino glavni
grad Nijamej (lokalno stanovništvo ga simpatično izgovara Njami), izgleda
kao da se u svom centru pomalo izvlači iz pretprošlog veka, a zatim, ka
periferiji, tromo prelazi u prošlost u kojoj već vekovima živi. Ona je samo
nomadska, a to znači usamljena kao pustinjska lisica ogromnih ušiju, koja
osluškuje vetar sa verom da će joj doneti neki poznati miris, bar kao nadu
da za trenutak neće biti sama. A onda će brzo pojesti tu nadu i ponovo se
vratiti u najlepšu usamljenost koju Sahara ume da pruži.
Sedimo na podnim asurama, naslonjeni na zid kao dugoočekivani oslonac, posle
nedelja provedenih u pustinji u kojoj se oslanjate samo na ruke i laktove.
Ispijamo slatki čaj od mente koji nam nude ljubazni domaćini, pokazujući
trpezarijski sto za kojim nikada ne sede, ali ga ipak imaju. Njihovim
kćerkama dozvoljeno je da sa nama prozbore po koju reč u ime emancipacije, i
to je sve. Mogu i da nam sipaju čaj. Vratili smo se iz pustinje i to je
najvažnije. Neki se, kažu, i ne vrate. Zalutaju, budu napadnuti i
opljačkani. Ne mislimo na to.
Utisci iz zemlje Hausa i Tuarega potpuno su zaposeli naše misli.

Januar 2004.
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“Le Ténéré est la plus belle solitude du monde”. The most beautiful solitude
in the world is in Tenere. And indeed, this feeling of aloneness in this
central region of Niger is like an orchestration of the starry sky, like
trying to arrange the desert sand, like getting a sense of direction where
there isn’t one. Simply, in the Sahara you are lost in every dimension and
then you accept this feeling as a beauty that cannot be quantified or
expressed by words or looks. You just need to let go and enjoy this feeling
of solitude. Thus we abandoned ourselves to this beauty as our jeeps roamed
amongst the sand dunes, sparse cacti, desert goats who remained in the
peripheral vision of the dreamy shephards casting glances towards our
vehicles which have lost direction, like many others, on their way from
Niger to Mali. Once upon a time, a sole acacia tree grew in this region of
around 400 square kilometres; this tree, Arbre du Ténéré, served as a main
orienteering point for the desert caravans. No one quite knew how the tree
survived,  with the Azalai caravans transporting slabs of salt on camels who
must have found the tree attractive, or the Tuaregs who could use its twigs
to make tea. An unwritten tribal law preserved this living ‘desert
lighthouse’ for a long time, until a drunken driver eventually felled it.
The tree was then transported to the museum in the capital and it was
replaced by a metal sculpture in the desert.
Niger is a huge country that belongs entirely to the desert. In 1550 Leon
the African said that Africa has four parts; the third part has no other
name in Arabic than Sahara, which means desert. He probably estimated that
one fourth of the  entire continent was desert; he explored Africa on
horseback, bringing the first knowledge about it to Europe.
Here and there a dreamy village appears from the desert sand, with unusual
rectangular houses of mud brick, whose dark rooms provide a secure shelter
from the sun which kills everything that is exposed to it for too long. The
Tuaregs, dressed in indigo robes, break up the monotony of the desert colour
scheme, proudly mastering the vast expanses of the desert on their camels.
Only the capital city, Niamey, (locals pronounce it as Nyamee), looks like
it is pulling itself out of the 19th century in the centre of the city,
whereas the outskirts of the city slip back into the distant past in which
this place has lived for centuries, unchanged. This past is nomadic, which
means lonely like a desert fox with its huge ears cocked to the wind, hoping
that the wind will bring a known scent or sound as a promising end to its
loneliness, even for a moment. But then, this hope disappears quickly and
the desert fox returns to the most beautiful solitude, the one that only
Sahara can provide.
We are sitting on rugs on the floor, leaning against the wall with our
backs, a welcome and long awaited support after weeks in the desert when we
used just our hands or elbows to prop ourselves up. We are drinking sweet
mint tea, served by our kind hosts, who show us their dining table which
they possess but never use. Their daughters are allowed to exchange a few
words with us, as a token of female emancipation, but that is all. They are
also allowed to serve us tea. We made it back from the desert, and that is
most important. Some are said never to come back. They get astray, they get
attacked and robbed. We don’t even think about it.
The impressions of the Housa and the Tuareg country have completely occupied
our thoughts.

January 2004

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